Meet the Schools, No Travel Required: College Fairs in Central Florida, 2014-2015

No matter what stage you are at in the college application process, attending a college fair or information session is great way to learn more about your options or to impress an admissions representative at your dream school. You will have the opportunity to pepper an admissions officer with questions about admissions, financial aid, campus life, etc., schmooze them, or sit back and enjoy what they and other high school students are talking about. Every college fair is different though – format, number of universities attending, and types of universities represented can all vary greatly – so be sure to read the descriptions below to select the college fair(s) that best fit your interests and schedule. 

Below is information about many upcoming college fairs in and around the Central Florida area, including fairs in Melbourne, Orlando, Daytona Beach, Sarasota, Jacksonville, and Tampa. This is updated regularly so that it stays as current as possible. If you know of any other events, or have had a positive or negative experience at any of these fairs in the past, feel free to add a comment below!


Exploring College Options – Joint Travel with Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford. Identical events at two locations in Central/North Florida: Sarasota in September and Jacksonville in October (read more below)

Sunday, September 14, 7:30-9:30pm
Hyatt Regency Sarasota
1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota, FL 34236

An event you won’t want to miss – 5 of the nation’s most well-known and prestigious universities will gather to give short, formal presentations exploring the unique characteristics of that university, and then open up the floor to student questions about the schools, what they look for in an application, and what you can do to make yourself stand out. 

Whether you intend to apply to these universities or want to stay local, the smaller information sessions (compared to large college fairs) can provide you with an opportunity to learn a lot about the admissions process in general. 

College Week Live: All Access September – Thursday, 18 September, 10am-10pm


A unique online format allows students not only to connect with students and admissions officers at more than 150 college and universities, but also to join presentations about financial aid, test preparation, and admissions given by a number of higher education professionals throughout the day-long event. The only catch is that many of the live presentations are during the school day, so students may not be able to access them.  See event description and list of attendees here. 

Pinellas County College Fair – Sunday, 28 September, 1-3pm

USF St. Petersburg University Center, 250 5th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Over 70 universities are planned to attend, though a list is not yet available. Check here for more details. 



Exploring College Options – Joint Travel with Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford.

Thursday, 02 October, 7:30-9:30pm
Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront
225 East Coastline Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32202

See description above for Exploring College Options – Sarasota event. 

New York University Information Session / Off-Campus Reception 

Sunday, 05 October, 2-3:30pm

Crowne Plaza Orlando Universal

7800 Universal Blvd.

Orlando, FL, 32819

While only one university is represented here, versus more than a hundred at some other Central Florida college fairs, NYU is known for striking its own path and likely won’t be at any fairs in our area. One of the largest private school in the nation with over 50000 students, NYU has something for everyone in its Manhattan-based main campus and medical center, Brooklyn-based engineering school, 2 sister campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, and 13 satellite campuses across the globe, including myriad research opportunities, highly ranked Stern business school, Tisch School of the Arts, and Gallatin School of Individualized Study. SAT scores at my alma mater range 1280-1480, and ACT scores for admitted students are 29-31. Register here. 


College Night at Valencia College – Identical events at two locations in Central Florida:

Tuesday, 07 October, 6-8pm

Osceola Campus

1800 Denn John Lane, Kissimmee, FL 34744


Thursday, 09 October, 6-8pm

West Campus

1800 S Kirkman Rd, Orlando, FL 32811

These events will feature about 80 colleges and universities from across the nation, including a variety of parochial schools and nearly all of the Florida public universities. Most schools in attendance are less selective, though a few notable highly selective schools, including Cornell, Rice, Savannah College of Art and Design, US Coast Guard Academy, US Air Force Academy, and Yale University, attended the fair last year and are likely to make another appearance this year. To see the full list of attendees for the 2013 event, click here. (A list of 2014 attendees will be available in late September.)

Advance registration is not required, but recommended. Students also have the opportunity to register with individual universities to ensure that schools of choice have full contact information for promotional materials. 


Orlando National College Fair – Sunday, 12 October, 2014, 1-4pm – UCF / CFE Arena

CFE Arena

12777 Gemini Blvd. N
Orlando, FL 32816

This large annual college fair, hosted by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), will draw over 100 universities from across the country. Most of the universities represented are less selective, and include public, private, large, and small colleges, most of which are located in the South and on the East Coast. Numerous large state schools, but very few West Coast schools are in attendance, so be sure to check the full list of attendees here if you have particular colleges in mind that you want to see. Almost all Florida public universities will make a showing, and a nice selection of Florida private universities will also be there. The University of Miami, American University, Purdue, and Rutgers, for example, will be there, but no Ivy League or selective technical/engineering schools will, for example. 

Admission is free, but registration is required. (Note: The registration selection does not seem to be optimized for use with desktop Google Chrome. I had the most success navigating with a touchscreen device.) 

Volusia County College Fair – Tuesday, 14 October, 5:30-7:30pm

Mainland High School, 1255 W. International Speedway Blvd, Daytona Beach, FL, 32114

Brevard County College Fair – Wednesday, 15 October, 6:30-8:30pm

Melbourne Auditorium, 625 E. Hibiscus Ave, Melbourne, FL, 32901

Indian River County College Fair – Thursday, 16 October, 6-8pm

Indian River Mall, 6200 20th St, Vero Beach, FL, 32966

VTV Joint Travel Information Session – Vanderbilt University, Tufts University, and Vassar College. Identical events at two locations in Central/North Florida.

Tuesday, 21 October, 2014, 7-8:30pm – Jacksonville, FL

Jacksonville Marriott
4670 Salisbury Road
Jacksonville FL 32256

Wednesday, 22 October, 2014, 7-8:30pm – Tampa, FL

Tampa Marriott Westshore
1001 N. Westshore Blvd.
Tampa FL 33607

To familiarize you with the very different schools you’ll meet at this information session, let’s start with location – Vanderbilt is in Nashville, Tennessee; Tufts is located in Medford (near Boston), Massachusetts; Vassar College calls Poughkeepsie, in the Hudson Valley of New York, home. In this small group, it is likely that each university’s representative will give a presentation highlighting the unique characteristics of their school, followed by an open question period. Come ready to make a good impression!

Vassar College, once the sister college to Yale University, enrolls 2400 undergraduates in a small and highly selective liberal arts program. It is consistently at the top of the rankings for affordability, quality, and test scores (SAT middle 50%: 1330-1460; ACT middle 50%: 30-33). Vanderbilt is a larger, even more selective research university with 12000 undergraduate and graduate students situated in a huge urban campus. The prestigious medical center is one asset that helps Vanderbilt draw top talent from across the nation (SAT middle 50%: 1410-1570; ACT middle 50%: 32-34). Finally, we have Tufts, which is similar in many basic regards to Vanderbilt – 10600 students, urban research campus with well-known medical center – but also different. Situated in New England, Tufts has a long tradition of sending students abroad and great international relations programs, among many others (SAT middle 50%: 1350-1520; ACT mean: 32). 



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